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Can police legally eavesdrop?

It's very important for the police to follow all procedures and respect your civil rights when making a drug bust. Sometimes, in their haste to make arrests, however, this doesn't happen.

Perhaps you were arrested, and police had a warrant based on things that you'd said. They legally entered your house with a warrant, but now you're wondering if they violated your rights before that by eavesdropping without your permission.

They may have. To a large degree, it depends on where you were and what type of technology they used. High-tech equipment can't be used, and they have to get a warrant to tap into your phone conversations. You have a right to privacy in your own home.

However, that doesn't mean that everything you say is private, even if you only intended for one other person to hear it. Perhaps the comments you made were to an associate, and you made them on the phone, but you made that call while riding the bus. Perhaps police were already following you and one of the passengers on the bus was an undercover officer who listened to everything you said.

That's legal. You were in a public space, talking loudly enough for anyone to hear, and they don't have to tell you that they're listening in. No high-tech equipment was used. They did not need a warrant.

The lines here can get a bit blurry at times. Do you think that the police went too far, listening in illegally without a warrant or otherwise violating your rights under the Fourth Amendment? If so, it's crucial that you fully understand the legal options that you have moving forward.

Source: FindLaw, "Illegal Search and Seizure FAQs," accessed Aug. 10, 2017

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